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INDIAN WOMEN SECURE QUALIFICATION AND THREE-WAY SCRAMBLE FOR SECOND PLACE IN MEN’S POOL A SET UP AFTER BIG INDIAN WIN

August 04, 2022 08:33 AM

  BIRMINGHAM: Australia’s women made it 4 wins from 4 while India secured their place in the semi-final in dramatic fashion to round out the morning session. India’s men registered a big win over Canada in the first game of the afternoon, while Wales kept their hopes of semi-final alive following a win over Ghana. The evening session began with a thriller between Pakistan and Scotland’s men, with Pakistan edging the tie and keeping their slim hopes of qualification alive. A packed day was ended by Australia making it 3 wins from 3, securing their top spot in Pool A.

Canada 2 India 3 (Pool A women)

It was a fight to the very end between India and Canada women as they battled for a place in the semi-finals. Canada needed just a draw to progress, while for India nothing less than a win would do.

Had Canada triumphed it would have been a historical moment as the Wolf Pack have never finished higher than fifth at the competition. For India, a place in the semi-finals would represent an opportunity for them to finish higher than their fourth place at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

In the end, it was the Eves who took the win and the chance to play for medals but the game hung in the balance until the final whistle.

India began the match with all the intensity of a team that was going to leave everything on the pitch. They were rewarded for their efforts in the third minute when Tete Salima was able to steer the ball home after a penalty corner strike had bounced around the Canadian goal.

The lead was doubled in the second quarter when Navneet Kaur showed all her considerable skill and agility to dance her way into a scoring position and guide the ball past Rowan Harris in the Canada goal.

That second goal was the wake-up call that Canada needed and just one minute later Brienne Stairs was on hand to deflect penalty corner past Savita. This signalled a period of sustained Canadian dominance as the Wolf Pack showed all the discipline, patience and hard-work that has made them increasingly a force to be reckoned with since their World Cup experience a few weeks ago.

Hannah Haughn was able to celebrate her 200th cap with the goal that brought the scores level. A cleverly worked penalty corner routine saw McManus slip the ball to Haughn after Karli Johansen had drawn the India front runner with a disguised move at the top of the circle.

This meant the teams went into the fourth quarter with very different goals. For Canada it was a case of maintaining the status quo. India, on the other hand, had to go all out for a winner.

India thought they had scored in the 47th when Katariya Vandana had been able to slip the ball past Harris after a hustling move by Salima along the backline. Salima was adjudged to have stick tackled and the goal was disallowed.

The teams continued to battle, although both sets of players were looking increasingly fatigued. Natalie Sourisseau was the architect of several Canadian attacks but even she fell to the ground exhausted when a mazy run through the India defence was halted by the excellent Gurjit.

Canadian hearts, and resolve, were finally broken in the 51st minute when Lalremsiami was on hand to tap home the ball after a Gurjit Kaur penalty corner strike. As the ball dipped over the line, you could virtually hear the mantle of Canadian belief cracking.

The results mean that India finish the pool stages in second behind England, with a place in the semi-finals. Canada finish the pool stages in third and will be in the classification matches.

India will come up against Australia in the semi-final.

Hannah Haughn (CAN): "We brought a fast, attacking game, unfortunately it just didn't go our way. We’ll look to regroup for the next game."

Lalremsiami (IND): "I am really happy now we can play in the semi-finals. We work really hard as a team, so I am really happy to win the match."

Canada 0 India 8 (Pool B men)

India came into this important match on the back of a fast-paced and intensely competitive encounter with England the day before. It was obvious from the first few minutes of the match that Canada would be hard-pressed to contain the Asian side as they sought to stamp their authority on the game from the off.

It was all India in the opening quarter as a trio of penalty corners saw Harmanpreet Singh test the Canadian defence with his first two drag flicks and then throw the ball high and at speed past Ethan McTavish on his third attempt.

Akashdeep Singh nearly doubled the lead a few minutes later as a flowing move left the Canada defence chasing shadows. A minute later and Rohidas Amit was able to find the net as he latched onto a cross and flicked the ball home.

A green card for Floris van Son at the start of the second quarter was well dealt with by the Canada team. Led by John Smythe, the team showed their ability to dig deep, defend in strong lines and withstand players running at them. However, the tide turned again in the 20th minute when Kumar Varun’s penalty corner was saved but, on the re-award, Lalit Upadhyay was able to make the opportunity count to extend the lead to 3-0.

During this period, McTavish pulled off some magnificent saves and can be credited with keeping his side within touching distance of the rampaging India team. However, there was nothing he could do when Gurjant Singh made his way into the circle and fired the ball home.

Canada continued to try to take the game to India and Keegan Pereira was given the chance to get on the score-sheet when a penalty corner was awarded at the end of the second quarter. His shot was well saved by Krishan Pathak, who had replaced PR Sreejesh in the India goal.

There was just one goal in the third quarter, this time from another flowing India attack. Akashdeep Singh was the recipient of some clever passing and he made no mistake as he sent the ball home.

The first ten minutes of the fourth quarter was more evenly matched and Canada had attacking chances of their own, with a second penalty corner, from which Dhillon Roopkanwar was unlucky not to score. His shot was saved by the post player. Then Matthew Sarmento nearly found a way through the India defence but his shot flew wide.

India really turned the screw in the closing minutes of the game as they upped the pace once more. Harmanpreet scored his second goal of the match from another trademark penalty corner, Mandeep Singh made it 7-0 and then, on the stroke of full-time Akashdeep scored his second of the contest to make it a resounding victory for India. The result sealed second place in Pool A for India.

Amit Rohidas (IND): "It was good but we could have scored more goals. It would have helped us with the upcoming matches as we drew with England so it will help us win the pool."

Australia 2 Scotland 0 (Pool B women)

Australia made sure they finished with a perfect record in the Pool stage as they beat Scotland in a game that ended their chances of reaching the semi-finals.

The first quarter began with Australia on the front foot, as the Hockeyroos bid to secure their top spot in the Pool. As would go on to become a theme of the match, Amy Gibson pulled off a great stop from a Mariah Williams shot as the first quarter ended goalless.

Further Hockeyroos pressure was asserted in the opening exchanges of the second quarter, but a steely Scotland defence stood firm. Eventually, just 2 minutes before half-time the Hockeyroos did find the precious opening goal, Grace Stewart with the finish after Maddy Fitzpatrick’s effort was denied.

Knowing a win or draw would mean they guaranteed top spot in Pool B the Hokceyroos put their foot on the gas, searching for more goals to put the game, and the Pool, to bed. Greta Hayes and Stephanie Kershaw both went close but to no avail, as Scotland hung on in the game as it headed into the final 15.

Needing to find a couple of goals to re-ignite their hopes of a semi-final spot Scotland got the final quarter off to a nightmare start, as Shanea Tonkin tucked the ball home for the Hockeyroos after some good work from Hayes to double the Australia lead. It would prove to be a knockout blow as the game, and Scotland’s medal hopes, came to end with no further score.

Kaitlin Nobbs (AUS): “We always knew Scotland were going to come out with lots of fire and passion and that’s exactly what they did. We were just trying to match it. It was a very fun game to play.”

Amy Gibson (SCO): “We always knew it was going to be a tough game playing against the world No.3, but we believed in ourselves after our performances in previous games in the tournament and we put it all out there. We couldn’t have put any more effort in.” 

Wales 6 Ghana 1 (Pool B men)

Wales kept their hopes of a top 2 finish alive with a comprehensive win over Ghana.

It was a tight opening 15 in this game as Wales knew they needed to win to keep hopes of a semi-final appearance alive. The result was a cagey first period in which both sides had opportunities to take the lead but neither did.

It would be Ghana who broke the deadlock, Benjamin Kwofie with the strike after 21 minutes. Wales were suddenly staring down the barrel of losing their chance to put pressure on the top 2 in Pool B. Spurred into action by going behind Gareth Furlong dragged the Welsh back to parity with a goal 4 minutes before the half-time interval.

The Furlong show was to continue in the third quarter as a refreshed Wales side looked to get the job done. Furlong grabbed his second to put the Welsh 2-1 up in the 38th minute and then claimed his hat-trick just 5 minutes later. A devastating third period now saw Wales 3-1 to the good.

Benjamin Francis got the final 15 underway in the best possible fashion for Wales, scoring after just 2 minutes. Further goals from Daniel Kyriakides and Owain Dolan-Gray followed as Wales completed the rout. The result means the race for the top 2 goes into the last round of matches in Pool B with the Welsh hoping to sneak into the semi-finals at the expense of England or India.

Gareth Furlong (WAL): “A slow start from us in the first half, and Ghana played really well in the first 10 to 15 minutes. They could have gone two ahead if we’re being completely honest.

“We settled down in the second quarter, toughed it out, and in the second half we were a lot better.”

Elikem Akaba (GHA): "We showed that when we are given the opportunity we can do something, we can play hockey. It's a big learning experience for us. We'll go back and we'll look at these games, analyse them and see where we can develop from. There's a lot of potential back home in Ghana.”

Pakistan 3 Scotland 2 (Pool A men)

Pakistan edged out Scotland to keep their slim chances of semi-final qualification alive in the opening match of the evening session.

In a tie that ebbed and flowed in the favour of both sides it was Scotland that took an early lead, Cammy Golden scoring the opening goal following a penalty corner. Chances for both sides followed in the first period, Junaid Manzoor having a pop at restoring parity for Pakistan in the tie but missing the target.

Another quarter of few chances was blown open by 2 Pakistan goals in in the space of a minute. Afraz got the leveller before Abdul Shahid got Pakistan’s noses in front. Suddenly on the back foot, Scotland searched for an equaliser of their own, Jamie Golden went close after some impressive skill but the players headed into half-time with Pakistan leading 2-1.

The third quarter seemed to open up the tie as both sides searched for goals. With chances for both teams coming thick and fast it was the Scots, thanks to Struan Walker, who scored in the 38th minute to level the tie. Despite some late Pakistan pressure, in which they hit the post, the match remained level heading into the final quarter.

Scotland began the final quarter searching for a goal that may have earned them their first 3 points of the competition. However, it was Pakistan who would get the late winner, Rooman scoring with 5 minutes left on the clock. There was little time for any more notable chances, Scotland played the last 2 minutes without a keeper as they desperately searched for another equaliser but the game ended at 3-2, Scotland without a win in the Pool stage.

Umar Bhutta (PAK): “Scotland are not an easy game. They are improving very well, as they showed with a draw against New Zealand, a tough team.”

South Africa 0 Australia 3 (Pool A men)

Australia made it 3 wins from 3 to secure top spot in Pool A and inadvertently set up a three-way scramble for second place.

The first quarter began with typical Australian pressure as the Kookaburra’s set their sights on their 3rd win in 3. It took just 4 minutes for the 6 time Commonwealth Games gold medallists to take the lead, Jake Whetton with the strike following a Tom Wickham initial effort. A second was added 4 minutes later – Blake Govers with it. More chances followed but the score line remained at 2-0.

Contrary to the first period the second was a lot quieter in terms of clear-cut scoring opportunities. Nathan Ephraums did however hit the post for the Kookaburra’s, while Tevin Kok provided some resistance for South Africa as he saw his effort saved by Aussie keeper Johan Durst. A goalless quarter meant the players headed into the half-time interval with Australia 2-0 up.

The third period was once again dominated by Australian chances as they bombarded the South African goal. While the South African defence stood firm they offered little going forward, pegged back by some determined Kookaburra’s offense. The Aussie’s maintained their lead heading into the final break.

A relentless Australia continued their barrage of attacks in the final 15, and were finally rewarded for their perseverance as Govers fired home from a penalty corner in the 55th minute. The Kookaburra’s did have time to hit the woodwork once more however the game ended 3-0, as Australia continued their perfect record in the Pool.

The result leaves South Africa, New Zealand and Pakistan on the same amount of points (4) and the same goal difference (-4) heading into tomorrow’s final day of Pool action.

Aran Zalewski (AUS): "Today was important for us to make sure that we go through to the next round. We had two pretty good games, so the team is feeling confident.

"South Africa did a good job of nullifying some of our strengths and it was 2-0 for most of the game. It was a pretty close fight and a good contest so we enjoyed it."

Day 7 preview:

The morning session begins with the conclusion to the Pool stage in the women’s competition. At 9:00 South Africa take on New Zealand, with South Africa needing a big victory to leapfrog their opponents into second place in Pool B. At 11:00 England take on Wales, a win or draw for the hosts would secure top spot in Pool A, however they’d have to lose by 10 goals to avoid finishing top of the pile.

The afternoon and evening sessions move across to the men’s competition. At 14:00 India take on Wales in Pool B in what is essentially a faux quarter-final, however a draw could be enough for India to progress if Canada were to beat England in the next game at 16:00. England currently sit second and will be looking to register a big win over Canada to try and secure top spot in Pool B. They are currently 11 behind India’s goal difference on the same points.

The evening session gets underway at 19:00 with South Africa vs New Zealand in Pool A. A win for South Africa, who have only played 2 games could knock the Black Sticks out of semi-final contention. A win for New Zealand would see them leapfrog their African foes and into 2nd place in the group ahead of the final match of the day. The final game, at 21:00, is also in Pool A and features Australia vs Pakistan. Pakistan are still in with a chance of making the semi’s, but will need to upset the odds and win or at least draw to keep that dream alive, depending on how the game before ends.

 
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